Uber exploring dispatching yellow cabs

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After all but killing New York City’s taxi business, Uber is now exploring the possibility of dispatching yellow cabs, according to documents reviewed by The Post.

An Uber executive has lobbied Taxi & Limousine Commission chief Aloysee Heredia Jarmoszuk on the idea’s “potential,” according to a September city lobbying disclosure.

The executive, Josh Gold, is an ally of Mayor de Blasio and a former lobbyist for the well-connected Hotel Trades Council.

No details of his discussion with Jarmoszuk were provided in the filing. Gold, a public policy and communications director at Uber, declined to comment.

New Yorkers took about half a million yellow taxi rides per day, until 2014, when Uber and Lyft started to eat their lunch. Now New Yorkers take slightly under 100,000 each day.

Through the TLC’s “E-Hail” program, app users could potentially see yellow cabs as another option alongside the basic “UberX.”

On a quarterly earnings call Thursday with Wall Street analysts, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said the company, as it grows, would always have a need to recruit more drivers.

“I don’t think we’re ever going to have enough drivers,” he said.

New York Taxi Workers Alliance leader Bhairavi Desai told The Post her 25,000-member union, which includes Uber and Lyft drivers, would "remain open-minded."
New York Taxi Workers Alliance leader Bhairavi Desai told The Post her 25,000-member union, which includes Uber and Lyft drivers, would “remain open-minded.”
Natan Dvir for NY Post

Uber and Lyft daily ridership in the city is down double digits over the past few months, according to TLC data, likely because of driver shortages. Low supply and high demand mean skyrocketing fares — and thousands of daily riders ditched the apps for yellow cabs, according to the TLC data.

For instance, New Yorkers taking Uber or Lyft to JFK Airport have griped at fares well above $100. Yellow taxis have a fixed rate of $52 to or from Manhattan and JFK. Intra-borough rides on the meter are sometimes just half of an Uber or Lyft ride when prices for the app-based rides “surge.”

New York Taxi Workers Alliance leader Bhairavi Desai told The Post her 25,000-member union, which includes Uber and Lyft drivers, would “remain open-minded” to the idea of Uber-mediated hack hails.

The financials of the potential arrangement are unknown, including whether the app would get a cut of cab rides it dispatches. Desai said Uber’s usual 25 percent commission for drivers wouldn’t work, given the costs of operating a traditional taxi.

Uber is exploring the possibility of dispatching yellow cabs, according to documents reviewed by The Post.
Uber is exploring the possibility of dispatching yellow cabs, according to documents reviewed by The Post.
Toby Melville/REUTERS

“I think they want to replace their volume,” she said. “Especially in a moment when a lot of the drivers are not going back.”

New Yorkers could arrange yellow-taxi rides through Uber, formerly known as Ubercab, back in 2013. Desai believes Uber dropped yellow cabs once enough of its cars were on the road.

“Our thing is, you have to protect full-time work. Whether it’s yellow-cab drivers or Uber and Lyft drivers, we want to see standards lifted for all the drivers,” she told The Post on Wednesday night outside City Hall, where a cabbie hunger strike had just ended.

A TLC rep sent the following statement: “As a regulatory agency, the TLC meets frequently with all its Licensees to discuss ideas, individually and including during our monthly Taxi Working Group convening. Bolstering the Taxi sector, we are presently focused on implementing the Relief Program enhancements announced earlier this week, alongside the Mayor, Senator [Chuck] Schumer, Marblegate, and NYTWA to address medallion debt.”

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